Which restaurant menu ideas make the most profit?

Researching restaurant menu ideas is exciting. You can unleash your imagination and creativity.  Whether creating recipes for your food truck, hotel, cafe or casual dining restaurant – it’s a fun process, but you also want to ensure the dishes will make you money.

Whatever the type of cuisine you serve or the size of the operation you run, it’s important to remember that the individual recipes are only as strong as your menu. To make profit from your menu, it’s incredibly important to apply business acumen to your ideas. It may be your business, but it’s best to avoid approaches such as ‘I like nachos, let’s do nachos’ – as it probably won’t serve you well in the long run.

A collection of delicious recipes, strangely is not the definition of a successful restaurant menu.

All too often businesses build what they believe to be a strong menu, only to be left wondering why they are not achieving targeted margins or profit further down the line.

Menu ideas that generate profit

How do I research restaurant menu ideas?

There are a great many sources of inspiration that you can explore, from the usual social media platforms to eating out at competitors. Yet likes on Instagram do not necessarily translate into people actually wanting to order it regularly. Novelty doesn’t often lead to sustained profits.

Reports on eating out trends can help you to refine your menu ideas, based on what the industry is seeing across the globe.

Sources such as:
MCA Insights & Business Intelligence
UK Food Trends 2019
USA What’s Hot? Culinary Forecast

Think of your target customers. Which demographics do they fit in? What trends apply to them? Design your menu to appeal to them.

Turning restaurant menu ideas into profit

Taking creativity and turning it into profit is really the definition of Menu Engineering. There are many components to this, but one of the key considerations is which dish types your recipes fall into…

Menu dish types

Stars: Extremely popular and have a high contribution margin.
They should be your flagship/signature menu items.

Plowhorse: High in popularity but low in contribution margin.
Crowd pleasers, perhaps even loss-leaders? Consider appealing add-ons with strong profit margins, to boost the overall profit of the order.

Puzzles: Generally low in popularity and high in contribution margin.
Try to understand why they are difficult to sell. What could you adjust to attract more sales without compromising the profitability?

Dogs: Low in popularity and low in contribution margin.
Remove from your menu.

Now of course, some of these you won’t know until you’ve started to sell them… Make sure you analyse your sales data and manipulate your menu accordingly – to ensure the best possible chance of success.

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